Serato vs. Virtual DJ 2020. Feature Comparison.

TLDR? Jump To The Video Below

Like clockwork, there are some new videos that have popped up recently about features you should know about Serato. And then, you couldn’t script it better, they clown on Virtual DJ. What did Virtual DJ do to you? 

Now in 2019 I did a very thorough breakdown of Serato Vs Virtual DJ, getting into some great detail. If you want to check out that video the information is in the doobly-do below. But that was last year, that was after six months of using Virtual DJ. And I did run into some glitches with supporting moving platters. Guess who uses moving platters? Not only did I have some issues with the Numark NS7III but also my Rane 12s. Nothing catastrophic, but enough that for a brief time that I switched back. And then they fixed it. Yep. I mean what can you say when a company puts a ton of effort to support equipment, some equipment they don’t even have a direct working relationship with, yet reverse engineered it to make it work on their platform better.

So let’s break it down, my top reasons why you should consider VDJ and a couple reasons not to. I am not going to say one is better. Everyone is going to have their own preference, what works better for you is what you should use. That’s it. Roll credits.

A Preface

So to preface this all, I would consider myself a power user of both Serato and Virtual DJ with the caveat I still learn new things every day. I started using Scratch Live back in early 2012, and then Virtual DJ in late 2018. I have spend quite a bit of time getting familiar with both platforms, and they have their plusses and minuses. I have had discussions with both companies about issues with their software, albeit I have had better luck with one.

So let’s get into it. 

The Look

Prior to late 2019 I would have said that Serato is hands down he nicest looking UI of all the platforms out there. Simple and to the point, large text where needed, it looks great on even a 13” screen.

Serato DJ in performance mode

Virtual DJ, for me, was a powerful tool wrapped up in plaid shirt with a butterfly collar.

But on a Sunday I woke up to massive change, Atomix changed that all and came out with a completely redone and modern UI. Far more elegant presentation, far more readable. And while not perfect, they did a seriously great job making improvements.

Virtual DJ 2020 Performance Mode

Serato gets a slight edge since it’s still a bit more minimalist.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Now yes, some DJs will DJ off a keyboard. That is not me, but I do use the keyboard to help manage my library when it’s not connected to things. And with that I rely on the keyboard extensively.

In Virtual DJ you can literally remap every key in Virtual DJ to how you prefer. (here are my mappings) I, as a Serato user, got so familiar with the platform that I preferred it over the stock Virtual DJ shortcuts so I just changed it. Serato, you are stuck with what you have. Now, this isn’t a bad thing for me since I prefer the Serato method, but knowing that you can customize your entire experience gives Virtual DJ a clear advantage.

DVS

Honestly both platforms are super solid. Even Q-Bert has given his thumbs up on Virtual DJ.

This one is a tie.

Controller

The fact that you can connect Virtual DJ to almost any piece of equipment, be it controller or mixer, and make it work, makes it’s worth its weight in vibranium (and if you don’t understand vibranium is, we simply can’t be friends).

Serato works great with what is compatible, but it has to be on the list. And when products age out so does the potential for it to work on Serato DJ.

A big advantage to Virtual DJ on this one.

File Formats

This one surprised me a little when I first tested things out, but you can pretty much put every file format out there to Virtual DJ and it will play it. For instance Serato will not play APE or WMA files. Yes this is rare, I was just surprised that they lacked support with it.

Serato vs. VDJ filetype support

Advantage Virtual DJ

Drag and Drop Capabilities

I mention Drag and Drop because for years I got very used to using Serato along with a tag editing program called Jaikoz to help with my music management. There are still some very powerful features I like to leverage in Jaikoz so you can imagine that I am a little disappointed that Virtual DJ does not allow you to drag and drop files out of its interface. If I am doing some bulk editing that I’d rather do in Jaikoz this adds a frustration component to things. But that being said you can do most of your editing needs right inside Virtual DJ.

* I should note that I am a on MacOS (Catalina) and this feature does not work. I have heard from someone that it works on Windows machines.

The advantage goes over to Serato.

File Editing

Simply put, Virtual DJ is a real file management tool. Sure you can edit ID3 information in Serato, but Virtual DJ has a much more powerful tool to do that, along with supporting far more tags than Serato does. 

Virtual DJ ID3 Editor

Advantage: Virtual DJ

Library Size

Justin Timberlake Staring

Really? I mean this was the primary reason for me to consider Virtual DJ in the first place. The fact that you can launch a massive library in 2-5 seconds, I mean Serato does not hold a candle to this

Just as a frame of reference I took me 60 seconds to load a 62k song library with about 25 smart crates in serato. It took me 3 seconds in Virtual DJ. Larger library, make that many additional minutes.

Virtual DJ gets the TKO on this.

Automix / Autoplay

OK I can see the pitchforks and molotov cocktails. This is about as controversial as the SYNC button (which I do not personally use). So why use Automix? Well if you are a mobile DJ doing things like ceremonies, cocktail, or dinners where you are not behind the deck doing a live mix but still want control of your playlist, then this is the feature for you. 

Virtual DJ is made more powerful with the POI editor which allows you to define points in a song where you want to mix in or out, be it some almost silent intros our prolonged outros. You can even select different mix types if you’d like.

Serato has an autoplay feature but is literally a beginning to end song playing option. No fading between songs. And definitely no points to tell the software where to mix our or in. And given that this is a purist platform, it’s something you likely will never see.

Give the checkmark to Virtual DJ if you want this feature.

Streaming

Thanks to social distancing in 2020 some people learned that streaming might be a handy option to have in their DJ software. VDJ allows you to do Shoutcast or Icecast for internet radio stations. It also has a hosted VDJ platform to stream to as well that is linked to your account. You can also stream directly to one social platform, and while many people, including myself, use other platforms to do this, 

Serato? Eh? Again. Purity. So the likelihood of one seeing a streaming option in Serato is very very slim.

The advantage goes to VDJ although I’d personally recommend other platforms when doing social sharing.

Conclusions

So do I think Serato is somehow an inferior application? Of course not. I used this for years and, minus a couple releases that came out, it was rock solid. It is much simpler to use out of the box and works great with hardware that is supported for it.

But if you are looking for something more, if you are looking for more “nerd factor” here where everything under the sun is supported and scriptable, and especially if you have a large library, VDJ to me is hands down my choice to use. And the fact after having some issues with moving platters which forced me to switch over to Serato only to go back to Virtual DJ when the issues were resolved speaks volumes. I was in the boat of why even give Virtual DJ a look at, and now I am here to tell you you’d be foolish not to.

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